A reader: I bought a new car. I was so excited when I drove it off the lot. Now I look at the car and feel buyer’s remorse. I have had the car for less than a year and have had it in the shop nine times.
It makes a funny noise when I am driving over 60 on the freeway. The dealer keeps telling me there is nothing wrong. They probably think I should have my hearing checked, but I’m telling you the noise is still there. What can be done?
Action Line: Go to the dealer and speak directly to the owner or manager. Explain what has happened. If that doesn’t do you any good, you can always contact the manufacturer directly. The best contact information can usually be found on the manufacturer’s website or in the owner’s manual.
If still no results, you should check to see if your vehicle falls under the California or federal Lemon Law rules.
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According to the California attorney general, “the ‘Lemon Law’ applies to these problems if they arise during the first 18 months after the consumer received delivery of the vehicle or within the first 18,000 miles on the odometer, whichever occurs first.
“During the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, the ‘Lemon Law’ presumes that a manufacturer has had a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle if either:
“1. the same problem results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven and the problem has been subject to repair two or more times by the manufacturer or its agents, and the buyer or lessee has at least once directly notified the manufacturer of the need for the repair of the problem as provided in the warranty or owner’s manual, or
“2. the same problem has been subject to repair four or more times by the manufacturer or its agents and the buyer has at least once directly notified the manufacturer of the need for the repair of the problem as provided in the warranty or owner’s manual, or
“3. the vehicle is out of service because of the repair of any number of problems by the manufacturer or its agents for a cumulative total of more than 30 days since delivery of the vehicle.”
If the vehicle falls under the Lemon Law rules, you might be eligible for a BBB program called AutoLine. AutoLine is a great program where you actually sit down with a representative of the manufacturer and have the opportunity to present your case to a trained arbitrator.
The arbitrator’s decision is binding on both parties so, if the decision is in your favor, the manufacturer has to honor whatever resolution the arbitrator decides is best.
This service is free to consumers. Contact AutoLine at 800-955-5100 to see if your car qualifies.
Make sure you keep accurate records and receipts so you can present a clear story to everyone you contact.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.